By Alexis Lopez
A feeling of deep sympathy is how the New World Webster
Dictionary describes compassion but to me compassion isn’t
just a feeling, it’s the will to act on that emotion.
It is defined by the way we live our lives and in my life
I’ve learned to guide myself through acts of compassion
however it took a near death experience to show me the power
of acting on compassion.
winter of 2007, a few days after a Christmas celebration,
fate struck me in a way I could’ve never predicted.
A burning fever coursed through my veins and a stabbing
pain penetrated my left abdominal side and what I felt was
going to be the last thought of my life passed my mind,
I could’ve done more. I fell into a septic shock coma,
my own body had poisoned me with toxic waste shortly after
my appendix had burst. The doctor never failed to remind
me how lucky I was during my four month hospital stay spent
in intensive physical therapy; I was part of the 25% of
children who survived such a sever case of appendicitis.
My body had withstood four different surgeries that drained
me of the toxic fluids and repaired my scarred intestines.
As I laid in a morphine drip daze on my hospital bed I had
the same thought cross, I could’ve done more. While
at the Children’s Hospital I met children who were
in worse situations than that of my own; my roommate was
a fifteen year old boy who was undergoing chemotherapy for
pancreatic cancer. In the room next door a premature seven
month old infant was fed through a surgical hole in its
frail belly because his stomach was malformed, his mother
wept all night. I would leave the hospital, but the mental
image of those children never left my mind and only served
to reassure me on one point. What this world could use was
an ounce of compassion and living could be so much easier
even for kids like these.
world is an unimaginably large place and I understood that
the only way I could hope to make a difference would be
through small ripples of kindness that could transform into
immense waves of compassion. When November arrived I ventured
deep into the heart of Los Angeles to the streets of Skid
Row to help an often neglected majority. I’ve never
been a person to hand over coin change to a homeless person
on the street because I realized real difference could only
occur if I took care of it with a hands on approach. So
I volunteered to donate food and time by helping serve turkey
and mashed potatoes to Skid Row residents during the Thanksgiving
season. While I worked I couldn’t help but notice
the weary but cheery faces of seniors, parents, and children
whose day was brighten up by such a small act of compassion
that most of us take for granted. I didn’t have millions
of dollars to give but I did have millions of my body’s
fibers all pushing me to give them all my energy in the
form of aid. I understood that simple prejudices often cloud
judgment; these people were just citizens who broke under
the turbulent economic times and deserved to be treated
with the same kindness all humans have a right to.
to me, was defined through my own acts of kindness. When
I’m asked of compassion I think of the relatively
small number of people I helped because they’re part
of the ripple effect I hope to create. To other people it
may come or be shown in different forms but the final effect
is always the same and that’s to realize that we can’t
all be happy and we can’t avoid any of life’s
dangers but through compassion we can make sure that we
never fail to help a human being in need.